Seasons 4 and 5 were a lot of fun, but they were also just a lot. Some of it was worth the grind (Kawhi and D-Rob, or the Age of Heroes freebie cards), while some wasn’t (sorry Russ), but as the saying goes — it’s all about the journey, not the destination.
Okay, that’s not entirely true. When it comes to sports, it’s essentially all about the destination, as long as that destination results in a win. So I’ll start with the dubs:
NBA 2K21 MyTeam Season 4 And 5 Review
The XP Grind
I’ve said it every season, but XP really is quite the ingenious addition from 2K this year. I told myself that I would take my time on the journey to Season 4’s galaxy opal Kawhi and try to be even more efficient than Season 3. For the most part, I accomplished that, but unfortunately there were far too many occasions where I talked myself into buying VC for packs because I really wanted the players, or I really wanted them now, or because I needed them for XP.
Obviously, I didn’t need them for the XP because by the end of the season there’s so much XP that I think it’s actually easier to get the big reward cards than people realize. Yes, it’s easy to level up at first, but once you get past level 30 and the XP amounts start to look daunting, that extra justification to spend VC is dangerous. This is by design of course, but it’s up to me/us to be disciplined and patient. There’s huge XP drops at the end of the season, and things just seem to fall into place without much of a fuss.
David Robinson actually was a breeze in a shortened Season 5, so if that’s the way 2K is going to go from here on out, I’m all for it.
Unfortunately enough for me, the promo cards in Season 4 and 5 were all too tempting, so my discipline was tested and broken.
I’m probably one of a small, insane, group of people who locked in for Rudy Tomjanovich in Season 4 (that weren’t interested in getting Klay, that is). I’ve always loved Rudy T cards in MyTeam, and am actually quite shocked about the love he’s received. Making him a Reward lock-in sucked, but at least some of the cards required were Texas-team favorites like Manu, Shawn Bradley and of course, Steve Francis.
Steve’s amethyst card had been a mainstay in any online lineup I ran, but now my Rockets squad builder is looking nice.
Oh, so you noticed the original owner Tracy McGrady I have in there too? Yeah, like I said, Season 4 broke me. The day that Inferno packs came out, I stupidly decided I was going to buy packs until I pulled a galaxy opal. LeBron would have been fine, but I really wanted T-Mac. Somehow 2K didn’t call my bluff, as I got him in my second 20-pack box, so for less than $100.
Objectively, I know it sounds insane to be pleased that a virtual card who will be obsolete in mere months cost me less than $100. It is insane. And when I actually pulled him, I honestly wasn’t happy — I was just relieved. So the moral of the story is that there’s no need to spend money to win when you can get cards like Kawhi, Jamison, D-Wade, D-Rob, Blake, and The Matrix for free. Those six players are actually an extremely formidable lineup for anyone, not just a No Money Spent player.
Then with Season 5’s “Age of Heroes,” the amount of free cards we got was a heroic effort on the part of 2K. And the “mini-grinds” to get them weren’t stressful at all, which was a nice change of pace.
For example, just playing a few Unlimited games vs. having to actually win them was a relief. So much so, in fact, that I actually had some fun playing online for a change. I was able to take whatever group I wanted into the Unlimited streets (like my Rockets squad), and if I got destroyed because my Yao was just too slow for online play, it didn’t matter. I still got the XP, and I still got the rewards (my favorite is definitely Clyde the Glide), so I was happy.
And don’t tell 2K, but having all of those great free cards helped keep my VC spending in check during Season 5.
Well, except for when galaxy opal James Harden came out. I relapsed that weekend, and ended up broke and disappointed. So the terrible pack odds actually did much more to curb my spending going forward than anything else.
Russ, I love you, but you wouldn’t even make my Free-Card-Only Squad. Even back when Russ dropped, I still preferred D-Wade, and now after the Age of Heroes, I’ve got Donovan Mitchell or D’Angelo Russell as point guard options.
It was, however, very satisfying (and a major personal win) to finally get Russ, who was my first Limited player reward.
In previous seasons, I just didn’t have the time, patience, or luck to grind for a ring each weekend. But in Season 4, it seemed like I was seeing my ring relatively early (like in less than five wins).
The last ring to actually unlock Russ was right in the middle after my first win of week six, which came before the game even started as my opponent quit (or got kicked probably). Can’t complain about that. And of course, getting a ring usually coincided with knocking out the “Win the Weekend” XP agendas, which was also a nice win-win.
Then with Pau, having to grind for only five weeks instead of six was a welcomed change. I did find it strange to have two center reward cards in Season 5 (D-Rob and Pau), but I happily went after and got both of them.
However, I do think overall that the power creep has started to negatively affect Limited squad building options. It’s obvious that pack-buying players have an advantage over NMS players, particularly when matchmaking still needs some work. In the future, I hope 2K continues to keep Limited in check. Running with one or two nice cards is fine, especially now that even 100 percent NMS players have free opals at their disposal, but that one Limited weekend where I was (surprisingly often) playing against three Dark Matter cards was tough.
I ended up investing in a galaxy opal Jokic to keep up, and definitely had some success with him. I typically love a good point-center, and he’s probably the best there is. Luckily, I was able to sell him back a couple of weeks later and just about broke even.
But older, lower-tier cards still need love (and a reason to exist) too. So I’ll take this opportunity to shout out some Limited all-stars, like emerald Quinn Cook (plus still-emerald-GOAT Jeff Green), sapphires Jabari Parker and Ronnie Brewer, rubies Markelle Fultz, Kevin Porter Jr., and Kyle Anderson, and of course I can’t forget amethyst beast Austin Croshere — just to name a few.
Ah yes, I’m saving the biggest W for last. Domination is great, but Spotlight Sims are finally back.
Not only do I get to use older cards I haven’t touched in many moons because of the team requirements, but the reward cards are also (mostly) amazing. I haven’t unlocked John Wall quite yet, and am very excited to eventually do so, but getting someone like Sidney Wicks or Don Buse for free in just a few games is awesome.
I do wish some cards, like pink diamond Kawhi or Kyrie, were replaced with more imaginative players from their respective franchises. Another fun Clippers player, for example, could have been pink diamond Eric Gordon. Or instead of Kyrie, how about a Matthew Dellavedova maybe?
Not every team can win a championship, and not every aspect of NBA 2K21 MyTeam is worth the time or energy. I’ll try to move through these quickly, just because I don’t want to be sad any longer than I have to be.
- If I weren’t getting XP, I wouldn’t ever touch Unlimited or Triple Threat Online. The self-contained rewards just aren’t worth it. Plus, there’s too many really good (or really cheesy) 2K players out there, so there’s no way I’m ever going 12-0, or consistently getting to the top TTO board (with ball drops intact and being blessed to see good rewards).
- The Ascension, which started out as a really interesting concept, has kind of become stale and boring. I certainly didn’t care about getting Bill Walton or Dantley, and getting a Ruby Series 1 Player Pack or another Clutch Pack, isn’t as exciting as it was during Seasons 1 or 2.
- I don’t understand how they possibly come up with the insane requirements for The Exchange. Lou Hudson definitely is not worth 54 cards, including four original owner pink diamonds. Then there was that whole Evan Fournier debacle where you had to open VC-only packs to get the cards needed to trade in for him — until the community complained so much that 2K put the cards on TTO boards. Disgusting money grab, 2K.
- Evolution Cards continue to be overlooked and underutilized, unfortunately. In Season 5, the XP grind essentially took that level 1 LeBron reward card all the way from sapphire to diamond, which was a nice idea, but objectively the final result of that evolution just wasn’t worth it.
- Triple Threat Offline is a good way to stack XP, but again the rewards are not worth it. I played a ton of TT in Season 5, and didn’t get any player rewards or even a diamond consumable. Please just make it a ball drop instead of The Vault, so we at least have the illusion of dictating what reward we get.
- Why should I bother collecting tokens? 2K, please bring the heat with next season’s Token Reward update, especially if we’re only getting one or maybe two cards at each gem tier. And I don’t even know what to say about the Token Market at this point, which hasn’t been open in months.
- Obviously, 2K wants to save the heavy hitters for Friday content drops, but there’s got to be a way to inject some juice into the Tuesday packs, right? And releasing VC-only Super Packs every week was not the way to go. Maybe Tuesday content could be budget players at a discounted price geared towards diversifying Limited lineups? We can’t keep using emerald Jeff Green forever, right? I’d recommend packs that are amethysts and lower only, with four budget cards (one emerald, sapphire, ruby, and amethyst) like we’d find in the lower tiers of a solid promo release. And charge only 4K MT per pack instead of 10,500 MT. Then we can at least get decent upgrades to players we’re fans of who wouldn’t ordinarily be hyped in promo releases — I’d love a nice ruby P.J. Tucker that has 40-plus gold badges and maybe HOF corner specialist. Or more emeralds like the sharpshooting XP reward Quinn Cook from Season 5 since just one decent budget emerald per season isn’t enough. Not every card has to do everything, sometimes it’s fun to build squads around a superstar by using high-quality, lower-tier role players.
Overall, while I’m really happy with the amount of different things I can do/play in MyTeam, some of the those features/modes need fine tuning. That being said, this still is my favorite year of MyTeam ever, and I’m playing more than I ever have before to try and keep up with all the content. I love collecting cards, especially if they’re free, and 2K has definitely kept me busy these last couple of months.
Another thing to note, particularly for newer MyTeam players, is that typically this time of year is where things get crazy. Overpowered and unrealistic cards are coming in full force to throw off the competitive balance and upend the market for auction-worthy cards. So, as I’ve started doing at the end of each season, I’m selling all of my (non-Rockets) cards to have some MT flexibility. I look forward to diving headfirst into wherever 2K and the all-mighty power creep might take us.
Last year, arguably the best card was G.O.A.T. Yao, so maybe this year we’ll see a dark matter G.O.A.T. point guard Yao, or they might do something really crazy like make Spud Webb a 7-foot center with insane dunking ability. I don’t know if I’m down with that kind of a “glitched” card where they change a player’s physical appearance in-game, but with MyTeam, anything is possible and I’ll try my best to be ready.